Extensive uses of the dandelion, a common weed, can be found listed on MedlinePlus and other sites with information on herbal medicines and supplements. According to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, or NCCAM, Native American and traditional Arabic practitioners are among those finding dandelion a useful medicine. The entire plant can be used, with one use of the root being simple-to-make tea. Herbal teas have been used for centuries as health remedies. Their effects can be potent or benign. Please consult your physician before attempting any herbal remedies at home.
The National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Health labels dandelion a "botanical" and "dietary supplement" rather than a medicine. Dandelion contains vitamin A, niacin, lutein, and beta-carotene, according to MedlinePlus. The NCCAM concurs that the greens of the dandelion are rich in vitamin A.
Purification and stimulation of the liver is a traditional focus of dandelion use in both Chinese and Arabian medicine, with the proposed benefit of systemic cleansing, according to MedlinePlus. Similarly, dandelion has been prescribed to prevent breast cancer, according to researchers Heather Greenlee, et al, who piloted a study exploring such claims. Their work was published in the journal "Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention" in 2007. In it, dandelion was one of several ingredients used in a botanical supplement, and study participants' hormone metabolism was measured. The findings were that the effects of naturopathic interventions were not substantial on estrogen levels of the participants, and that androgens were decreased at a certain phase of the ovulatory cycle. In short, the study authors themselves concur that more research is needed before it can be stated that dandelion is useful in the fight against breast cancer.
Treatment of Ailments
Liver, kidney, and spleen diseases have been historically treated with dandelion; today, the NCCAM refers to its use as a "tonic" for similar ailments. While some find dandelion tea causes gastrointestinal distress, it is also prescribed in some cases to treat that very ailment.
Because dandelion is a dietary supplement in the United States, products using the plant are not required to be standardized in the manufacturing process. This fact warrants some concern for possible ill effects or misuse by consumers of any botanicals. Dandelion is generally harmless unless you're allergic or have gallbladder problems or blocked bile ducts, as stated by the NCCAM. MedlinePlus reports that while drug interactions with dandelion are rarely reported, there is potential danger from combining the herb with blood-thinning agents and other drugs, and gastrointestinal symptoms also have been noted. The most common adverse side effects are dermatological in nature, such as rash and sensitivity to sun.
- MedLine Plus Supplements: Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale)
- National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, Herbs at a Glance: Dandelion
- Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention: A Pilot and Feasibility Study on the Effects of Naturopathic Botanical and Dietary Interventions on Sex Steroid Hormone Metabolism in Premenopausal Women
- NIH Office of Dietary Supplements: Background Information
- NIH Office of Dietary Supplements: Botanical Dietary Supplements
- tea image by Horticulture from Fotolia.com
This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.